BY JOEY SWEENEY
While I’m not quite sure how this wound up in my feed/pile of things to write about today, there it is, Philadelphia, in all its mighty glory: Grace Kelly’s wedding dress. Now in the careful possession of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the dress was designed by Helen Rose and made by the wardrobe department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, neither of whom were, to use the parlance of our time, fucking around. The dress, of course, was worn at the Spring 1956 wedding of Kelly to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, and frankly, if you’re going to read a random Wikipedia entry today, well, let this be the one:
In December 1955, Rainier went to America on a trip officially designated as a tour, although it was speculated that he was seeking a wife. A treaty with France in 1918 had stated that if he did not produce an heir Monaco would revert to France. The treaty was as a result of the Monaco Succession Crisis of 1918. At a press conference in the U.S. he was asked if he was pursuing a wife, to which he answered, "No." Then a second question was posed: "If you were pursuing a wife, what kind would you like?" Rainier smiled and answered, "I don't know – the best.”
[…] Rainier met Kelly and her family, and after three days, he proposed. She accepted and the families began preparations for what the press at that time dubbed "The Wedding of the Century." She and her family had to provide a dowry of $2 million in order for the marriage to go forward. […]On April 4, 1956, Grace, with her family, bridesmaids, poodle, and over eighty pieces of luggage boarded the ocean liner SS Constitution for the French Riviera. Some 400 reporters applied to sail, although most were turned away. Thousands of fans sent the party off for the eight-day voyage. More than 20,000 people lined the streets of Monaco to greet the future princess consort.
To put it mildly, that is all… a bit much. But all these years on, in this age of the Mandatory $30K Wedding (known colloquially in my friendgroup as “Pony Fever”), such extravagance can teach us many things. One is that your annoying friend’s try-hard princess shit that you’re battling through this season looks positively paltry by comparison, and should probably be treated as such, unless you are 100% sure she is never, ever getting divorced. (And you are never, ever 100% sure. I’m sorry, but you are among friends here. Are you sure? Are you really, really, really sure?) Another takeaway is that the desire for this level of pomp and circumstance around weddings that people try to imbue today isn’t really attainable at all for 98% of civilization, so maybe we should adjust our expectations, put on our thinking caps, and try to come up with a whole new way of thinking about these things, where weddings are once again the products of love and magic and not the Marriage Industrial Complex. Is that naive to even say? Is it too much to want? Can we begin by simply stockpiling dowries of vibes for our children?
Oh, but it is nice to dream.